How to Install a Surface Mounted Outlet

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How to Install a Surface Mounted Outlet. Installing a surface mounted outlet is an easy way to increase the number of receptacles in a room without facing the hassles of trying to fish the wire through the walls.

It is also a very handy way to add electrical flexibility in areas where the walls are comprised of cinder block, like those found in some apartments, basements or garages.

A common name for the raceway and boxes used for surface mounting is Wiremold. If you want an easy way to add an electrical outlet to a room where the aesthetics are not that important, then here is how to install a surface mounted outlet.

Things You'll Need

  • Wiremold Outlet Box (1 open back)
  • Wiremold Outlet Box (1 closed back)
  • Length of Wiremold Raceway (it comes in 10-foot lengths, as many as you require)
  • Bag of Wiremold Clips
  • #12 Gauge Solid Wire in Black, White and Green (as much as you require)
  • Wire Strippers
  • Linesman's Pliers
  • Screwdrivers
  • Tape Measure
  • Thin File
  • Electrical Tape
  • 20-amp Receptacle
  • Torpedo Level
  • Pencil
  • Drill and Drill bit
  • Hacksaw
  • Plastic Anchor Kit
  • Voltage Tester
  • Wire Nuts

The first step to installing a surface mounted outlet is to determine where you are going to place it. If it's on the same wall where you will be picking up the feed, then you will only require one length of Wiremold.

If you want an outlet on a different wall, then you will have to pick up a Wiremold 90-degree elbow.

Now that you have your location chosen, find the circuit which supplies power to the outlet you are going to be picking up the feed from and turn it OFF. Test the outlet with the voltage tester to make sure the power is OFF.

Remove the face plate from the existing outlet. Remove the two screws holding the outlet to the wall box. Gently pull the outlet out of the box.

Use the voltage tester to once again ensure that the power to the outlet is OFF. If there are other wires in the box, ensure that they are OFF as well.

Loosen the terminals on the outlet and remove the wires. If there are two sets of black wires and two sets of white wires, cut the exposed ends off, restrip the wires and twist the two blacks together using the linesman's pliers. Place a wirenut over the two black wires. Follow the same procedure for the white wires.

Take the Wiremold box with the open back and place just the back section over the wall box. Pull the wires through the opening and secure the back plate to the wall box using the two small screws (supplied).

Use the tape measure to measure how far away the other outlet will be. This is how long you will need your length of Wiremold to be.

Measure the Wiremold raceway, mark it with a pencil and cut it with the hacksaw. Use the thin file to remove any metal filings or burrs which could nick the wire on the end that you cut.

On the left and right sides of the Wiremold back plate you will notice three "ears." Slide one end of the Wiremold raceway onto the middle "ear" on the back plate. Hold the raceway firmly against the wall and use the torpedo level to ensure that it is level.

With the raceway level, use the pencil to mark the wall above and below the raceway where you will be placing the clips. If you are using a length of raceway longer than 4 feet, you should use more than one clip to fasten it to the wall.

With the wall marked, remove the raceway. Set the Wiremold clip between the pencil marks and mark the clip's center hole on the wall with the pencil. If you require more than one clip, do this with each one.

Take your drill with bit installed and drill a hole where you marked the wall. Insert a plastic anchor and make sure that it is flush with the wall.

It is important that you use FLAT HEAD screws when installing Wiremold. Pan head (rounded) will not allow the wiremold to lay flat against the wall and can ultimately cause dead shorts.

Secure the clip(s) to the wall using the flat head screws.

Insert one end of the raceway onto the "ear" of the back plate once again. Snap the Wiremold raceway into the wall clips to hold it in place.

An easy way to do this is to set the bottom of the raceway into the bottom part of the clip and then tap the top section of the raceway to get it to snap in place. Double check that the raceway is level.

Now, take the back plate from the other Wiremold box, this one should be the full, closed back plate, and slide the center "ear" onto the other end of the raceway.

Make sure that the back plate is level and use the pencil to mark the holes for the anchors.

Remove the back plate and use the drill to make the two holes in the wall. Insert the anchors like you did earlier. Connect the back plate to the raceway again and secure the back plate by screwing screws into the anchors.

Double check that everything is level.

Take your three lengths of wire (black, white and green) and stretch them out. Take one end of each in your hand and firmly wrap electrical tape around it to secure all three of the wires together. This will make it easier to fish the wire through the raceway.

Take the taped end of the wires and begin pushing them through the raceway (from the existing outlet to the new one).

Once you have about 12 inches of wire hanging out of the other end, stop feeding the wire. Inspect the wire at the other end for any nicks or cuts. Cut the remaining wire at the origin so that there is about 12 inches of wire hanging out of the raceway at each end.

Strip about 3/4 of an inch of insulation from the wires hanging out of the raceway where the existing outlet is located. Remove the wire nuts from the existing wires and twist the new black wire onto the existing group of black wires. Do the same thing with the white and ground (green) wires.

Cut 10-inch lengths of black, white and green wire from the remaining amount of wire. Strip 3/4" of the insulation from each end of the wire. Twist one end of each wire to the other same-colored wire bundles and tightly twist a wire nut over the wires. Wrap the wire nut where it meets the wire with electrical tape.

Gently tuck the wire nutted wires back into the wall box so that you only have one length of black, white and green wire exposed.

On the Wiremold cover, you will notice the side where you can remove three tabs. If you used the center "ear," then you will want to remove the center tab on the side of the box.

With the tab removed, set the Wiremold box onto the back plate and use the long screws (included) to secure it in place.

Wrap the black wire around the copper screw on the outlet and tighten it down. The white wire will get connected to the silver screw on the outlet and the green wire gets connected to the green screw (usually at the top of the outlet).

With the wires attached, wrap electrical tape around all of the terminals to help reduce the chances of a dead short.

Secure the outlet to the Wiremold box using the two screws (on top and and on the bottom of the outlet). With the outlet in place, install the cover plate.

At the other end of the raceway, install the Wiremold box exactly the same way as you did the other one. Cut the wires so that you have about 8 inches to work with. Strip the insulation from the ends and make the necessary connections to the outlet.

Wrap electrical tape around the terminals, secure the outlet to the box and install the cover plate.

Turn the circuit back ON and use the voltage tester to check for power and polarity at both outlets.

Now it's time to clean up the mess and you are finished. Although it looks like a lot of steps, and there are, once you do it, you will realize that it was much easier than you would have imagined!

Tips & Warnings

  • A rubber mallot can help make snapping the raceway into the clips much easier, plus the rubber will help reduce dents and scratches to the raceway.
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